Thursday, 28 September 2017
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 2 Thessalonians 2:3
The opening clause of this verse, “Let no one deceive you by any means,” is based on what was said in the previous verse. He told them that they were “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us.”
At that early day in church history, there were deceivers who were making crazy stuff up out of their own heads, and passing it off as prophecies from the Lord. Paul is showing those at Thessalonica (and thus us!) that only the instructions of true apostles were to be regarded as authoritative. Now that the apostolic age is over, our only source for divine revelation is the word of God. Any supposed word from the Lord, or any supposed divine instruction apart from the Bible, is to be wholly rejected.
The words of warning concerning being deceived are not unique to this verse. Rather, Paul warns of such things in other letters as well. And yet, instead of reading the Bible and accepting what it quite clearly says, people fawn over deceivers all the time. And they are out there by the bucketful. “Oooh, I have a word from the Lord.” Reject this nonsense! Read your Bible, and be sound in your doctrine.
Paul’s next words have a thought inserted in them by the translators, “for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” The Greek simply reads, “because if not shall have come the apostasy.” However, the words which were inserted by the translators are rightly supplied. It is speaking not of the rapture of verse 1, but of the “day of Christ” (or day of the Lord) of verse 2. The day of Christ (meaning the tribulation period) will not come “unless the falling away comes first.”
It has become common to teach that this word, apostasia, or “falling away,” is actually speaking about the rapture because the word signifies “leave” or “depart.” However, this is an unnecessary stretch of the intent of Paul’s words. The word is only used elsewhere in Acts 21:21 when speaking of forsaking Moses, meaning the Law of Moses. The departure is one of purposeful turning away from a set doctrine.
There will be a falling away from the truth faith of Christ before the day of Christ comes upon the world. What is implied here is that the true church will be gone by then, but that will be explained in verse 7. It is not explained by the word apostasia of this verse. Along with this thought, Paul finishes the verse with, “and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.”
Here Paul speaks of “the man of sin.” The term is unique in the New Testament. It is applied to a specific person who will be a man of lawlessness, as the word anomia implies. The word signifies “the utter disregard for God’s law (His written and living Word)” (HELPS Word Studies). To further describe him, Paul calls him, “the son of perdition.” This is a term used only one other time in the Bible, in John 17:12, when speaking of Judas who betrayed Jesus.
Judas, in essence, “fell away” from the truth of the apostolic office which otherwise could have been his, along with the other apostles. He chose the evil path, and he was essentially born to be destroyed, as is implied in the words of Matthew 26:24. Like Judas, this person will be set on a course which can only lead to ruin. The word Paul uses which is translated as “revealed” is apokaluptó. It will be as if a covering is pulled away and this person, bent on disregarding God’s law, will be unveiled. He then is a counterfeit to Christ, and thus he is known to us as the Antichrist.
What we have so far is the understanding that the day of Christ (the day of the Lord), will not actually commence until the Antichrist is revealed. However, he will not be revealed until after the rapture, as is implied in this verse, but which will be made explicit in verse 7. And so thus far, we see the sequence of events –
1) Rapture of the church
2) The falling away and the revealing of the Antichrist
3) Day of Christ (Day of the Lord)
Life application: It is common today among rapture deniers to state that the doctrine of the rapture was never taught until the time of John Darby (who is then maligned in order to diminish his writings – a source fallacy). However, this is untrue. Paul clearly teaches the doctrine in his letters (1 Corinthians and 1 & 2 Thessalonians). Just because Paul’s words have been improperly understood, because of a misinterpretation of the role of the church, it does not mean that the doctrine is unsound. Instead, it means that church doctrine has simply not been in line with Scripture. That deficiency has been corrected.
Lord God, it sure will be nice when you come for Your church! May that day be soon. Amen.